Indian team will assemble in New Delhi and will be tested for COVID-19 before traveling to Qatar.
The Indian football team is set to leave for Qatar on May 19 after the Arab nation accepted the All India Football Federation’s (AIFF) request at allow its players there ahead of the 2022 World Cup and 2023 Asia Cup combined qualifiers next month. Qatar has also agreed to waive off the mandatory ten day quarantine period after reaching their, following the AIFF’s request. This allows the Indian team to have a two week preparatory camp before their match against Qatar on June 3.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the remaining matches of the Group E, consisting India, were scheduled to take place in a centralized venue, Qatar.
“Following a process of close consultation with Asia’s Member Associations, the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has today confirmed the centralised venues for the Asian Qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 and AFC Asian Cup China 2023 matches scheduled to take place from 31 May to June 15, 2021.” Said the AFC press release on March 12, 2021.
“Meanwhile, FIFA World Cup 2022 host Qatar, will welcome Group E opponents Oman, Afghanistan, India and Bangladesh,” it adds.
The Indian football team under head coach Igor Stimac will play three matches in Qatar, against- Qatar, Bangladesh and Afghanistan on June 3,7 and 15 respectively.
“We are planning to fly the team on May 19 evening. There will be no quarantine (of the players) and they will be in a bio-bubble,” AIFF general secretary Kushal Das told PTI on Saturday.
He said the players will assemble in New Delhi and will be tested for COVID-19 before their departure to Qatar.
Earlier, a camp was planned in Kolkata from May 2-21. The team would then go to Dubai for a week-long camp and a friendly. However, the Pandemic has forced the AIFF to change the plan.
India’s chances of qualifying for the 2022 FIFA World Cup are over. However, their 2023 Asia Cup qualification chances are alive.
The Indian team had a camp and two friendly matches against Oman And UAE in Dubai. This was after the conclusion of Indian Super League, towards the end of March. The Blue Tigers held Oman to a 1-1 draw but lost 6-0 to the home side.
Presently, India are placed fourth in Group E with three points from five games, with only Bangladesh behind them. Afghanistan are placed in third spot with four points from five games. Qatar lead the table with 16 points from six games.